LegisLetter: January 08, 2018
Volume 25, Number 1
Happy New Year. While we are all accustomed to the Legislative Session serving as the opening act to spring, this year Session will serve as a reminder that winter is coming.
Legislators, staff, lobbyists, interest groups, and Floridians from all over the state will be here to kick off the annual Legislative Session on Tuesday, January 8.
Like the movie Groundhog Day, Florida State University will be back again asking for a share of the $87 billion state budget. In this edition of the Legisletter you will find our funding priorities and a summary of Governor Scott’s budget recommendations.
The Session is always filled with twists and turns, so it is impossible to predict how we will fare this year. Statements and actions by the Governor and Presiding Officers do offer glimpses into their potential actions.
The Governor’s budget includes no cuts to higher education funding. The Governor does shift some special programing funds (World Class Faculty and Scholars, Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence) and adds them to performance funding (distributed by the Board of Governors based on metrics).
House Speaker Richard Corcoran
While Speaker Corcoran has not mentioned higher education leading up to the Session, he has stated his intention to take the same approach on policies as last year.
His agenda will include continued battles for tax reform, immigration reform, regulatory reform, and, as always, an emphasis on transforming the way students receive their education.
"Hopefully, it will be the same (as last Session)," Corcoran said. "Hopefully it's just as disruptive and just as transformative." Richard Corcoran: 2017 Florida Politician of the Year, www.Floridapolitics.com
Senate President Joe Negron
The Senate President continues to have a strong push for additional higher education funding including increasing Bright Futures Scholarships and Benacquisto Scholarships. We expect the identical version of the Senate President’s priority bill (vetoed by Governor Scott last year) to pass the first week of the 2018 Legislative Session.
With a stable or modest increase in revenues and the strong support of Senate President Negron, we are hopeful that FSU can secure as many priorities as possible.
A large part of Florida State University’s past success is because of the great story we have to tell. Here are a few highlights that have gotten the attention of state leaders:
- We are ranked #33 nationally in U.S. News and World Report – up 10 spots since 2016
- We are ranked #2 nationally in U.S. News and World Report in efficiently providing academic quality
- Our Four-year graduation rate is over 67% - our six-year graduation rate is over 80% Retention rate over 90%
- Our College of Criminology and Criminal Justice ranked #1 in the world
Florida State University is a great investment because of our excellent investment in the lives of our students and the contributions to our state.
Thank you for your interest in in the activities of Governmental Relations. We will provide regular updates throughout the Session. If you have questions or comments, please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (850) 645-1328.
2018 Legislative Priorities
Each year, Florida State University administrators identify legislative priorities that are vital to the operation of the university. Below are the top legislative priorities for 2018.
|World Class Faculty and Scholars||$25,000,000|
|Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence||$20,000,000|
|Earth Ocean Atmospheric Sciences Building||$13,000,000|
|Interdisciplinary Research & Commercialization Building||$27,300,000|
|Legacy Hall Business Building||$10,000,000|
|FAMU-FSU Joint Use Engineering Building||$15,200,000|
|Special Needs Hurricane Shelter Improvements FSUS||$3,000,000|
TALLAHASSEE CAMPUS PROJECTS
|FAMU-FSU Engineering Integrated Advancement||$6,168,000|
|Center for Advanced Power Systems Improvements||$1,230,000|
|Mag Lab Improvements||$300,000|
|Pepper Center for Long-Term Care||$500,000|
|Tallahassee Veterans Legal Collaborative||$400,000|
PANAMA CITY CAMPUS PROJECTS
|Joint Agency In-Water Strike (JAWS)||$650,000|
|Rural Northwest Florida Public Health||$578,000|
Employee Guidelines for Legislative Session
The 2018 Session of the Florida Legislature begins tomorrow. Please note the following Florida State University policies:
- President John Thrasher, Associate Vice President for University Relations Kathleen Daly, Chief Legislative Affairs Officer Kathy Mears and, Director of External Relations at the College of Medicine Laura Brock are the lobbyists for Florida State University.
- No one on campus other than President Thrasher, Ms. Daly, Ms. Mears and Ms. Brock are authorized to lobby for Florida State University or the State University System.
However, the Legislature periodically requests faculty and/or staff to attend committee meetings or to formally respond to questions about certain issues. FSU employees asked to appear before committee must notify Kathy Mears at 644-4453 and submit a legislative contact form prior to making an appearance.
If you have trouble accessing this form please contact Governmental Relations at 644-4453 for a hard copy.
Nothing here is intended to discourage FSU employees from exercising their individual rights as citizens or as members of groups or organizations not affiliated with the University. Such rights include the freedom to express their views on legislation, provided that the views are not presented as those of FSU, the SUS, or a subunit of these.
Spotlight on Bills
CS SB 4 – Higher Education by Senator Bill Galvano (R – Bradenton), establishes the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018” to expand financial aid provisions and incentivize postsecondary institutions to emphasize on-time graduation. The bill also expands policy and funding options for state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and enhance the quality of professional and graduate schools. Specifically, the bill:
- Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance programs in the following ways:
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per semester for textbooks, and authorizes use of the award for summer term enrollment as funded by the Legislature.
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Medallion Scholars (FMS) award to an amount equal to 75 percent of tuition and specified fees to pay for educational expenses, and authorizes use of the award for summer term enrollment, beginning in 2019, as funded by the Legislature.
- Extends the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to eligible students from out of state.
- Revises the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the First Generation Matching Grant Program from 1:1 to 2:1.
- Establishes the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program for farmworkers and the children of farmworkers.
- Requires each state university board of trustees to adopt, for implementation in the fall 2018 semester, a block tuition policy for full-time, first-time-in-college students.
- Modifies state university performance accountability metrics to promote on-time student graduation in 4 years.
- Establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program to fund and support the efforts of state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and research scholars.
- Establishes the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program to enhance the quality of professional and graduate schools and degree programs in medicine, law, and business.
- Requires state universities to use data-driven gap analyses to identify internship opportunities in high-demand fields for students.
- Strengthens accountability of state university direct-support organizations.
The bill appropriates $129.3 million in recurring funds from the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) and $1.7 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund for the 2018- 2019 fiscal year. From the appropriated EETF funds, $98.7 million is for Bright Futures awards, $27.6 million is for 2019 FMS summer term awards, and $3 million is for 2019 FAS summer term awards. From the appropriated General Revenue funds, $1.2 million is for the expansion of the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to students from out of state, and $500,000 is for the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program.
The fiscal impacts relating to the World Class Faculty and Scholar and State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence programs are contingent upon appropriations provided by the Legislature.
The bill has passed out of committee and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate. A similar bill in the House, HB 423 by Representative Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers), is waiting to be heard in the Postsecondary Education Subcommittee.
CS HB 9 – Federal Immigration Enforcement by Representative Larry Metz (R – Groveland, FSU Alum), creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” (Act) to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Specifically, the bill:
- Prohibits a covered body from having a law, policy, practice, procedure, or custom which impedes a law enforcement agency from communicating or cooperating with a federal immigration agency on immigration enforcement;
- Prohibits any restriction on a covered body’s ability to use, maintain, or exchange immigration information for certain purposes;
- Requires a covered body to comply with and support the enforcement of federal immigration law;
- Provides procedures for a law enforcement agency and court to follow when an arrested person cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States or is subject to an immigration detainer;
- Requires any sanctuary policies currently in effect be repealed within 90 days of the effective date of the Act;
- Authorizes a board of county commissioners to enact an ordinance to recover costs for complying with an immigration detainer;
- Requires an official or employee of a covered body to report a violation of the Act to the Attorney General or state attorney; failure to report a violation may result in suspension or removal from office;
- Authorizes the Attorney General or a state attorney to seek an injunction against a covered body that violates the Act;
- Imposes a civil penalty of at least $1,000 but no more than $5,000 for each day a policy that violates the Act was in effect;
- Creates a civil cause of action for a person injured by the conduct of an alien unlawfully present in the United States against a covered body whose violation of the Act contributed to the person’s injury;
- Prohibits the expenditure of public funds to reimburse or defend a public official or employee who violates the Act; and
- Suspends state grant funding eligibility for 5 years for a covered body that violates the Act.
The bill reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and is waiting to be heard by the full House. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 308 by Senator Aaron Bean (R – Jacksonville), has been referred to the Judiciary and Rules committees.
SB 180 – Computer Coding Instruction by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), authorizes, but does not require high schools to offer students opportunities to take specified computer coding courses beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The bill requires the Commissioner of Education to identify such courses that satisfy two credits of sequential foreign language instruction. The bill requires that Florida College System institutions and state universities recognize the credits as foreign language credits. However, each student and their parent must sign a statement that acknowledges and accepts that a computer coding course taken as a foreign language may not meet out-of-state foreign language requirements. The bill has been referred to the Education and Rules committees. There is no House companion at this time.
SB 406 – Retirement by Senator Greg Steube (R – Sarasota), provides that a retiree may be reemployed by an employer participating in the Florida Retirement System before completion of the 12-month limitation period if the member is employed on a part-time basis and is not qualified to receive retirement benefits for the 12 calendar months immediately subsequent to the date of reemployment. The bill has been referred to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and the Appropriations Committee. The identical bill in the House, HB 251 by Representative Chuck Clemons (R – Jonesville), is waiting to be heard by the Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee.
CS/SB 540 – Postsecondary Education by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange), creates the “Community College Competitiveness Act of 2018” to strengthen state leadership and accountability for Florida’s community colleges as an essential component of this state’s system of higher education. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the governance of the Florida Community College System by:
- Renaming the Florida College System as the Florida Community College System; and
- Establishing a State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC), and transferring specified responsibilities from the State Board of Education to the SBCC.
- Clarifies expectations and oversight of baccalaureate degree programs offered by community colleges, and:
- Modifies the baccalaureate approval process for all community colleges.
- Establishes a 20 percent cap on upper-level, undergraduate full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment at each community college, and a 10 percent cap on upper-level, undergraduate FTE enrollment for the Florida Community College System, and specifies conditions for planned and purposeful growth of baccalaureate degree programs.
- Establishes the “2+2” targeted pathway program to provide students guaranteed access to baccalaureate degree programs at state universities.
- Establishes the Supporting Students for Academic Success program to fund the efforts of community colleges in assisting students enrolled in an associate in arts (AA) degree program to complete college-credit courses, graduate with an AA degree, and transfer to a baccalaureate degree program.
- Modifies the community college performance accountability metrics and standards to promote on-time student graduation.
- Enhances transparency and accountability of community college direct-support organizations.
The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee and is not in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. A similar bill in the House, HB 831 by Representative Joe Gruters (R – Sarasota, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard in the Postsecondary Education Subcommittee.
HB 565 – Excess Credit Hour Surcharge by Representative Amber Mariano (R – New Port Richey), exempts from the surcharge first-time-in-college students who complete the requirements for their baccalaureate degree program within 4 years. In addition, the bill modifies the excess hour surcharge for students enrolled in a degree program designated by the Board of Governors as an area of strategic emphasis in a science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or health discipline. Specifically, for such students an excess hour surcharge equal to 100 percent of the tuition rate will be assessed for each credit hour attempted in excess of 120 percent of the credit hours required to complete the baccalaureate degree. The excess hours surcharge for all other students will continue to be assessed when the student exceeds 110 percent of the degree program. The bill reported favorably by the Postsecondary Education Subcommittee and is now in the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The identical bill in the Senate, SB 844 by Senator Aaron Bean (R – Jacksonville), has been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Appropriations Committee.
HB 1 – Hope Scholarship Program by Representative Byron Donalds (R – Naples, FSU Alum), establishes the Hope Scholarship Program, which provides the parent of a public school student who was subject to an incident of battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery, sexual offense, harassment, assault, battery, threat, intimidation or fighting at school with the opportunity to transfer the student to another public school or to receive a scholarship for the student to attend a private school. If the student enrolls in a public school outside the district, the student is eligible for a transportation scholarship limited to $750.
The bill establishes the duties and responsibilities of the Department of Education, the Commissioner of Education, scholarship funding organizations, parents, students and the Auditor General.
Additionally, the bill establishes guidelines for funding and payment of the Hope Scholarship Program, and allows taxpayers to receive tax credits for eligible contributions to fund the Hope Scholarship Program.
The bill reported favorably by the PreK – 12 Innovation Subcommittee and is now in the PreK – 12 Appropriations Subcommittee. The identical bill in the Senate, SB 1172 by Senator Bill Galvano (R – Bradenton), has been referred to the Education Committee the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK – 12 Education and the Appropriations Committee.